Sensory over responsivity and obsessive compulsive symptoms: A cluster analysis

Ayelet Ben-Sasson, Tamar Yonit Podoly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Several studies have examined the sensory component in Obsesseive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and described an OCD subtype which has a unique profile, and that Sensory Phenomena (SP) is a significant component of this subtype. SP has some commonalities with Sensory Over Responsivity (SOR) and might be in part a characteristic of this subtype. Although there are some studies that have examined SOR and its relation to Obsessive Compulsive Symptoms (OCS), literature lacks sufficient data on this interplay. Objectives First to further examine the correlations between OCS and SOR, and to explore the correlations between SOR modalities (i.e. smell, touch, etc.) and OCS subscales (i.e. washing, ordering, etc.). Second, to investigate the cluster analysis of SOR and OCS dimensions in adults, that is, to classify the sample using the sensory scores to find whether a sensory OCD subtype can be specified. Our third goal was to explore the psychometric features of a new sensory questionnaire: the Sensory Perception Quotient (SPQ). Method A sample of non clinical adults (n=350) was recruited via e-mail, social media and social networks. Participants completed questionnaires for measuring SOR, OCS, and anxiety. Results SOR and OCI-F scores were moderately significantly correlated (n=274), significant correlations between all SOR modalities and OCS subscales were found with no specific higher correlation between one modality to one OCS subscale. Cluster analysis revealed four distinct clusters: (1) No OC and SOR symptoms (NONE; n=100), (2) High OC and SOR symptoms (BOTH; n=28), (3) Moderate OC symptoms (OCS; n=63), (4) Moderate SOR symptoms (SOR; n=83). The BOTH cluster had significantly higher anxiety levels than the other clusters, and shared OC subscales scores with the OCS cluster. The BOTH cluster also reported higher SOR scores across tactile, vision, taste and olfactory modalities. The SPQ was found reliable and suitable to detect SOR, the sample SPQ scores was normally distributed (n=350). Conclusions SOR is a dimensional feature that can influence the severity of OCS and may characterize a unique sensory OCD subtype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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